KUALA LUMPUR, 20th January, 2017 (WAM) — The United Arab Emirates, UAE, has expressed grave concern over the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and reiterated support for efforts being made to alleviate the suffering of Muslims in the Southeast Asian country while urging its government to promote harmony among Myanmar’s ethnic segments.

The UAE continues to offer assistance to the Rohingya Muslims to help improve their humanitarian conditions and defend their legitimate rights, said Dr. Maytha bint Salem Al Shamsi, UAE Minister of State, in a speech delivered during a closed-door session of an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers from the members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, the collective voice of the Muslim world. The meeting is being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday to discuss the crisis of Myanmar’s Muslims.

“What is happening now is a slow genocide being carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority by racist-motivated nationalism,” the UAE minister said.

The Rohingya are Muslim people who lost their country and nationality and were forcibly displaced after being stripped of their legitimate rights and suffering from many violations.

“The UAE is gravely concerned over the intolerance against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar. We will continue to extend a helping hand and humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya while supporting the efforts being made to alleviate their suffering and improve their humanitarian conditions,” she added.

The UAE has offered more than US$1.7 million in humanitarian aid for the Rohingya, she noted.

The UAE supports the initiatives of the government of Myanmar to promote harmony among all people of different races and segments, she said, and noted that the Muslim Council of Elders recently inaugurated a conference in Cairo to open a dialogue on the situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The United Nations should shoulder its responsibility and take necessary action on the situation of the Rohingya, the UAE minister urged, and hailed the efforts being made by the OIC envoy for Myanmar to help the Rohingya.

The UAE delegation led by Minister Al Shamsi included Yaqoub Yousuf Al Hosani, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation for International Organisations Affairs, Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, Director of International Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Khalifa Al Mahrazi, Acting Charge d’affaires of the UAE Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

At the OIC extraordinary meeting, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman called for a fundamental solution to the Rohingya crisis.

The Secretary-General of the 57-member OIC, Yousef Al Othaimeen, urged the government of Myanmar to pursue transparency and justice in its treatment of the Rohingya.

Citing reports about the situation in in Rakhine state, he noted that since the Myanmar government launched its latest violent crackdown on 9th October 2016, the Rohingya suffered from widespread abuses, including discrimination, extra-judicial arrests, killings and the burning of homes.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, told the meeting that the violence against Rohingya, which has galvanised Muslims in Southeast Asia, was no longer Myanmar’s internal affair as it has fuelled an exodus of refugees that could destabilise the region.

Razak noted that the widespread abuses against the Rohingya, including killings, rape and the burning of thousands of homes, had driven an estimated 65,000 refugees across the border into Bangladesh in the past three months.

WAM/MMYS/bashir